Throughout most of my life as a Christian, I’ve had one question that keeps popping up. There have been times where I’ve asked it only once in a couple year span and then there have been times where it seems like I ask it every other week. Regardless of how often it comes back, it’s burned into my brain
like a branding rod used on cattle.
It was the question that haunted me when I heard about the Sandy Hook school shootings, and all of the mass shootings since. It was the question challenging me when a close friend died in a car accident at 17. It’s the same question I have whenever I read about Christians being persecuted in the Middle East, when I hear about extreme poverty in third-world countries, and when I watch good people lose their battle with disease.
This same question was waiting for me when I stepped into a private room at the funeral home as everyone else left. I was alone with a mom, a dad, and their son who had passed away days before. I stood silent as these beautiful people wept at the loss of their son. Trying as much as I could to blend into the flowery wallpaper behind me, the question returned as I watched this man cry out to God.
“Why didn’t God work a miracle?”
It seems like it’s something I’m asking more and more lately. Maybe it’s because I’m in vocational ministry, so I come into contact with people and circumstances that desperately need a move of God — a miracle. Maybe it’s because I’m a human being and most of us long for signs to comfort us,
to tell us we’re not alone,
to help us believe there is a higher power
who’s in control.
This world often appears to be run by an agent of chaos. People die. Countries war. Disease spreads. Power corrupts. Donald Trump is on tv. It’s why we, or at least I, long for miracles. They’re anti-chaos. They bring order to disorder. They replace what is with what should be.
Really, what miracles do for me is provide hope, even if only for a few brief moments. Hope for there being more to life than just what I can touch, taste, or feel. Hope for there being more to life than what my own actions, or inactions, can bring. Hope for an order capable of superseding the disorder of today. The reason I long to see miracles is because I long for hope. But what if the reason for miracles
isn’t hope? What if hope is just a byproduct? What if God works miracles
Maybe God’s painting a portrait of what is to come. Maybe miracles are like brush strokes, revealing the portrait of the Kingdom of God. You should never ask a painter why he chose to paint here and not there, to use this color and not that. He can see what no one else can. We may think he should have used yellow, because we think he’s painting a sun. But maybe he’s using colors we can’t see yet to create something we haven’t imagined before.
When a miracle first happens, like a brush stroke, it’s fresh and vibrant. I remember when my mom was healed of cancer, it was a bright flashing sign telling me God can and will intervene in my families life. However, eventually my mom being healed wasn’t as fresh and vibrant. In the beginning, we all thought about it constantly. Twenty years later, it’s still a large part of our families testimony — but it’s not the point of the story anymore. Now, it’s kind of faded into the background of our lives.
Eventually the effects of time cause the brush stroke, the color from the miracle, to set and bleed into the background. But this happens to expand the picture, not to mute it. It’s because the brush stroke isn’t the point — the portrait to come — is.
So I guess the next time this question comes knocking on my door, I’ll probably still wonder why God didn’t choose the color I wanted him to, but I’m going to try to trust that He’s creating something better than I could hope for,
or imagine on my own.
Because I’m no painter.
If anything, I’m just another brushstroke.
And we’re making something beautiful.